I was pretty diffident a year ago in suggesting corrupt backhanders as a potential motive for Dominic Cummings to visit GSK in Barnard Castle, because part of me resisted the idea that even the Tories would seek to make personal profit from a pandemic. Since then, of course, we have learnt of the quarter of a billion pounds (yes, £250,000,000) given to family investment firm Ayanda Capital for PPE procurement for which Ayanda was utterly unqualified and unsuited, numerous other examples of closed bids and completely inappropriate awards. The UK seems not just to have returned to 18th century levels of corruption, but to 18th century lack of shame about it in the governing class.
I suppose at least yesterday’s announcement by Boris Johnson that 60 million vaccine doses will be “finished” by GSK at Barnard Castle dispenses with the argument that was thrown at me by literally hundreds of trolls that the Barnard Castle facility is only some kind of large garden shed and therefore could not have been involved.
We now know about Tory corruption in Covid procurement, which I could only surmise a year ago – and let me further commend to you last night’s Panorama on the barely functional private £27 billion (yes £27,000,000,000) test and trace system under Tory serial profiteer Dido Harding. But it does, of course, take two sides to make a corrupt deal. Surely a big company like GSK would not be involved in backhanders?
Well, GSK were fined US $3 billion in 2012 by US regulators for fraud – yes fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines. In 2016 UK regulators fined GSK £37.6 million for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Let me say that again – for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Defrauding the NHS. That is the moral level we are looking at here.
So to say that GSK are not averse to paying a bung is to put it very mildly. And to say the Tories are not averse to personal profiteering from Covid procurement is to put it very mildly. It seems like a match made in heaven. Now I do not claim this is what happened, and I have never claimed this is what happened. It is a hypothesis. But it seems a not unreasonable hypothesis. Particularly compared to Cummings’ official explanation for visiting Barnard Castle.
I came under massive troll attack for the suggestion last year. It was claimed that GSK Barnard Castle is not physically capable of involvement in vaccine production. That is now shown to be untrue. It was also suggested that such a deal would have been struck in the main boardroom in London. I think that is to fail to distinguish between the apparent deal and the backhander. The latter are very seldom arranged in main boardrooms.
Anyway do read my article from last year. With the extra knowledge we have now, it has matured pretty well given the amount of derision it received from members of our professionally uncurious and unquestioning mainstream media.
I should also mention that I received a whistleblower tip-off that Cummings had also visited the Honeyman Group while in Barnard Castle. I tried contacting them both by phone and by email and never received any response from the Honeyman Group, and have no further information to stand this up. If anyone can add anything on this I should be most interested to hear from you.
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